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Reflecting on Jens Rasmussen's legacy


Jens Rasmussen, a pioneer in the field of safety science (with a focus on major accident research), remains a contemporary writer because of the lasting influence of his models and the ambition of his research program. The idea of this article is to look back on Jens Rasmussen contribution. First, the paper offers an overview of his key contributions over 30 years of cross disciplinary publications. Methodologically, I have reviewed about 30 papers in order to extract key inputs for the field of safety. This overview shows the evolution of his intellectual journey, from cognitive models, interface design, through human error definition and human reliability, accident investigation to socio technical modelling. Several scientific disciplines are involved, including engineering, psychology, safety management, and across these disciplines, cybernetics. Second, the article shows how his thoughts have been very influential and are therefore still present in the writings many authors in the field, indicating the influence of these ideas in the background of more recent ones. Authors with different disciplinary influences (e.g. psychology, management, sociology) and orientations in the field of safety (accident investigation, safety assessment, man-machine interface) have indeed incorporated in different ways some of Rasmussen's ideas into their studies, related to different stages of his own developments. While doing so, they use, extend or criticise some of these ideas. Third, what culminated in what is defined here, as Rasmussen's 'strong program for a hard problem', is analysed as stemming for a good part from an influential intellectual matrix: cybernetics. Fourth, after identifying in hindsight some of the limits in Rasmussen's program, several new orientations are proposed. They initiate a 'constructivist turn'.
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ineris-00971053 , version 1 (02-04-2014)



Jean-Christophe Le Coze. Reflecting on Jens Rasmussen's legacy. 6. International Conference Working on Safety "Towards safety through advanced solutions", Sep 2012, Sopot, Poland. ⟨ineris-00971053⟩


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